The Most Dangerous Weekend for Driving Isn’t What You Think
When drivers plan for the most dangerous weekends on the road, they probably think of major holidays like New Year’s, the Fourth of July, or St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s another weekend that might be just as deadly as any of them in terms of trucking accidents, and few people ever hear about it.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck is an annual “targeted enforcement” event where CVSA-certified inspectors conduct a blitz of roadside safety spot-checks, about 17 every minute across North America, for large trucks and buses over a 72-hour period.
The annual event, which started in 1988, is intended “to educate [the] industry and the general public about the importance of safe commercial motor vehicle operations and the North American roadside inspection program,” according to the CVSA.
While this might sound like an admirable effort on the CVSA’s part, the Roadcheck is a trucking safety nightmare.
The Roadcheck Creates More Safety Problems Than It Solves
An alarming number of trucks fail inspections each year, even though the dates are announced months in advance. According to the CVSA’s results for Roadcheck 2018 (the most recent event at the time this article was published), only 78.4% of vehicles passed the CVSA standard (Level 1) safety inspection. This is even though the CVSA schedules the Roadcheck with ample notice to all drivers and provides a checklist on their website that tells drivers exactly how they’ll conduct inspections and what they’re going to look for. When a truck fails to pass the Level 1 safety inspection, the company or driver can face fines and the vehicle can be placed out-of-service.
Failing an inspection under these conditions should be embarrassing — like flunking a pop quiz after your teacher gives you advance notice and posts the questions. Although the 21.6% failure rate is an improvement since the first year the CVSA collected data in 1991, when an astonishing 34.8% of vehicles failed, any failure rate is unacceptable.
The fact that one in five vehicles can’t pass inspection during a planned event raises the question: How many drivers and vehicles are out of compliance on an average day when they don’t know they’re at an increased risk for an inspection, fines, and service interruptions?
However, there are other problems with the CVSA Roadcheck. While these issues may surprise the average person, the dangers are clear and unmistakable for those who understand the trucking industry.
Many drivers who don’t adhere to safety standards take the Roadcheck dates off.
Avoiding inspections during the Roadcheck couldn’t be easier. Drivers who are out of compliance with safety regulations can simply stay off the road or take a “vacation” since the annual event is so widely publicized within the trucking industry.
When these drivers hit the road again the next weekend, they’re often looking to make up time and money, making them more likely to speed and drive excessively long hours. These behaviors put ordinary drivers in danger, but inspectors won’t be there to catch them. Here’s why:
Many inspectors schedule their vacation for the weekend after the Roadcheck, leading to the most under-staffed weekend of the year for safety inspections.
The Roadcheck is a major event for the CVSA that requires preparation, so inspectors aren’t likely to take vacations in the weeks leading up to the event. Instead, many of them take off the weekend immediately after the Roadcheck, which means the roads that weekend are dangerously unsupervised.
Truck drivers and trucking companies know that the weekend after the CVSA Roadcheck will be the year’s low point for inspections. For unscrupulous trucking companies, the low risk for an inspection means an opportunity to break safety regulations without fear. Drivers for these companies take to the roads for dangerously long shifts in vehicles that aren’t fit for service, putting ordinary drivers in harm’s way.
While taking some dangerously under-maintained trucks out of service over the weekend is better than nothing, the CVSA could accomplish much more if they didn’t provide the inspection dates ahead of time. Unfortunately, the CVSA clings to this practice, making the International Roadcheck more of an annual publicity event — with dangerous consequences — than a real push to make the public safer.
Contact Seattle Truck Law if You’ve Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
Keep an eye this year on the dates for the CVSA Roadcheck — a quick Google search should be able to tell you when it’s happening. Although it may not be feasible to avoid the highways completely the following weekend, put a note on your calendar and know the risks. Try to exercise caution and adopt defensive driving habits if you’re out on the road during the weekend after the Roadcheck, especially when driving near large trucks or buses.
If the unthinkable happens and you or a loved one suffers injuries in a crash involving a large truck or bus, Seattle Truck Law Attorney Morgan Adams can help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the skills and resources required to tackle the complicated legal issues surrounding a truck wreck case. He will advocate aggressively on your behalf.
Please contact Seattle Truck Law by filling out our quick and convenient online contact form or by calling 866-580-HURT (4878) if you need help. We offer free initial consultations to help you understand your legal options to no cost, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we help you recover financial compensation through a settlement or jury verdict.
Weiland, B. (2016). Find out what Roadcheck 2016 means to you [whitepaper]. J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.jjkeller.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/infoform_10151_-1_10551_35566
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.